Museo Poldi Pezzoli
Via Alessandro Manzoni, 12, Brera
Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli fell in love with the idea of the house-as-museum on his grand tour of Europe in the early 1800s. What is now the Victoria & Albert museum in London—with rooms representing different time periods—left an especially strong impression. The museum is in a neoclassical palazzo that feels like an endless cave of treasures: There are tapestries, armor, paintings, and sculpture, and the radically different décor and genre of each room make this one of the most fascinating museums in the city. We especially like the Dante room, which features an intricately detailed stained-glass window, scenes from The Inferno, and a portrait of the author himself.
Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera
Via Brera, 28, Brera
This beautiful seventeenth-century building is still a functioning university, but thanks to its significant inventory of cultural loot, it also operates as a museum, known as the Pinacoteca di Brera. The site started as a convent but opened as a museum in 1809. Nowadays, it’s home to Milan’s primary collection of paintings, with pieces you’ll probably recognize from your art history textbook—Raphael’s Marriage of the Virgin, Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus—as well as more modern works by artists like Modigliani. After browsing the galleries, take a stroll through the on-site botanical gardens.
Piazza S. Marco, 3, Brera
Originally from Florence, the porcelain maker Richard Ginori also has a new outpost in Milan’s Navigli neighborhood, selling not only the brand’s colorfully patterned tableware but also vintage wood furniture, chandeliers, and quirky decorative items (like antique chicken coops). Ginori’s recent resurgence in popularity is thanks in part to creative director Alessandro Michele, who also has the top creative job at Gucci.
Piazza Croce Rossa, Brera
Giorgio Armani is something of a fashion god in Milan—and everywhere around the world for that matter. And his presence is felt everywhere, especially at his headquarters. The complex includes Armani-branded everything (a hotel, a café, a florist, and curiously, a chocolate shop). There’s also an Armani bookstore, which carries a huge range of fashion, art, and design books, including limited editions and prints. It’s heaven for book lovers and anyone interested in beautiful objects.
Via Solferino, 3, Brera
For beautifully tailored bespoke suits, shoes, and accessories, you can’t beat Rubinacci, the old-school Neapolitan label that has a boutique on posh Via del Gesu. This is the place for the ultimate birthday, graduation, or Father’s Day gift.
L’Oro dei Farlocchi
Via del Carmine, 11, Brera
Vintage lovers will get a kick out of this shop in Brera, which carries old costumes, sculptures, statues, toys, and everything in between. The inventory is vast, which means you should set aside at least an hour or two for getting lost in the maze of stuff for sale.
Il Bar at the Bulgari Hotel
Via Privata Fratelli Gabba, Brera
Within the Bulgari Hotel’s scene-y garden, this is a pricey (but worth it) aperitivo spot for what is arguably the city’s best people-watching (this is the place to hang out during Milan fashion week and the Salone del Mobile furniture fair).
Via Borgospesso 12, Brera
Off of Via Montenapoleone, the city’s high-end shopping street, Bice is the style world’s cantina during fashion week.
Via Privata Fratelli Gabba 7b, Brera
Even in the middle of the city, the Bulgari maintains a sense of peace and quiet, thanks to its location on a leafy, private street in the Brera District. The hotel is predictably slick (black marble and granite, floor-to-ceiling windows, and Italian furniture), and it’s a consistent favorite for people in town for Milan fashion week or the furniture fair Salone del Mobile. The building itself is a renovated eighteenth-century palazzo that gives a sense of history to counterbalance all the glossy modernity. And there are little nooks (in the garden, at the bar, in the library) that are cozy but appropriate for meetings or just getting some work done.
Via Bagutta, 1, Brera
Popular with Milanese high rollers from the fashion and entertainment industries, Paper Moon sits in a historic neoclassical palazzo in the city’s highest-end shopping district, known as the Golden Rectangle. You can’t go wrong ordering the pizza with shaved truffles, and the simply prepared seafood (grilled swordfish with tomato gratin, squid with vegetable caponata) is always supremely fresh.
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